« ÎnapoiContinuați »
That place is called by the name of “ heaven,” and the situation of it is represented to be in some elevated part of the universe of God. Accordingly the phrase of “coming down from heaven,”1 and “ going up to heaven,” 2 are of frequent occurrence in the word of God, as descriptive of that abode in its relation to this earth which we inhabit; and it is on account of the same relation that the Apostle uses the corresponding phrase of " above,” when pointing it out as the object of desire to the Colossians.
“ Seek those things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the carth." 3
But whatever be the precise situation of this place in the range of God's creation, a subject of speculation more curious perhaps than profitable, it will be more to our purpose to remark, that the Holy Scriptures describe it as the peculiar residence
“ The Lord,” saith the Psalmist, “is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven;" so that the tabernacle on earth, on account of its near resemblance to heaven in that respect, was called “the habitation of his house, and the place where his honor dwelleth ;" 4 whence God himself is ofttimes denominated “ the God of heaven,” 5
· John vi. 33; Rev. iii. 12.
Deut. xxx. 12. 3 Col. iii. 2.
• Ps. xi. 4; xxvi. 8. • Ezra vi. 10; Ps. cxxxvi. 26; Dan. ii. 44.
“our heavenly Father,"1 " our Father which art in heaven.” From heaven our blessed Lord “ came down,' 93 when he was made man.
To heaven he re-ascended 4 after his resurrection. In heaven he now “sitteth at the right hand of God.” 5 And he shall at his appointed day “ descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God," 6 to judge the quick and the dead.
To that abode meanwhile he has directed the thoughts of his disciples, as the recompense of all their sufferings, and the scope and end of all their exertions. “ Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” 7
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." 8 The hope of Christians is specified by St. Paul, as “the hope wbich is laid up for them in heaven.” 9 And “ Blessed," saith St. Peter, “ blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept
* Matt. vi. 14; xv. 13; xviii. 35.
Eph. iv. 8.
2 Matt. vi. 9.
by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1
To this future residence of the blessed the Apostle to the Hebrews makes several allusions in terms which indicate its excellence. Thus he figuratively speaks of it as “ Mount Sion :"2 an emphatical term in the estimation of those to whom it was directly addressed, for they accounted their own “Mount,” which properly bore that name, to be in the Psalmist's language “the joy of the whole earth; "s and in continuance he mentions it, by a different modification of the same figure, as “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." Expressing himself with reference to the same celestial abode in language intended to convey ideas of its eminent dignity, he elsewhere says of Abraham, “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the promise ; for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." 4 And in like manner of the descendants of Abraham after the flesh he saith, “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For
11 Pet. i. 3-5. * Ps. xlviii. 2.
Heb. xii. 25. * Heb. xi. 10.
they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly if they had been mindful of that country, from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned : but now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.”? And in like manner again, of the descendants of Abraham after the Spirit, or the members of the Christian Church, the same Apostle saith, “ Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
All these passages are doubtless designed to point out to us the superior excellence and value of that celestial abode which is prepared for God's faithful servants in the world to come. To the same effect in general, but with a lively delineation of several individual features of this abode, the book of Revelation of St. John appears to supply us with descriptions, abounding in circumstances of magnificence, beauty, and enjoyment, among which are these that follow. It is portrayed as “the holy city, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,”
having the glory of God.” 3 " And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure
1 Heb. xi. 13-16.
? Heb. xiii. 14.
Rev. xxi. 2, 11.
gold, as it were transparent glass.”! “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring into it their glory and honor."? And it had “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. And in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." 3 In whatever manner such portraits as these are to be understood; whether it be that the most beautiful and splendid productions of the earth will be enjoyed in full perfection by the inhabitants of the heavenly state; agreeably to the idea ascribed to Raphael by our great poet,
" what if earth
P. L. v. 574.
or that the representations of heavenly things are set before us in a figurative manner, as calculated to impress us with a more lively sense of their value and delightfulness, when shadowed forth under the images of things which are esteemed on